In this article I will attempt to understand why and how ‘Intelligent Dance Music’ exists. The name itself projects an aura of vanity onto those who consider themselves IDM listeners. It’s quite difficult to describe this sub-genre of electronic music, perhaps the only way is by saying it’s some sort of combination between hardcore buzzsaw and glitch sounds and beautiful, abstract and gentle melodies. There is a two-faced nature to IDM and I like it.
For example, have a listen to µ-Ziq’s ‘Lunatic Harness’ and then ‘XT’ and see how varied this sub-genre is:
There’s a strange sense, when looking at some of the track names of other IDM producers like Aphex Twin, that this entire sub-genre is a well organised in-joke, which to me seems mildly plausible. Some odd track names include: ‘Piriton’, ‘Die Tomorrow’, ‘fz pseudotimestretch+e+3’ and ‘Windowlicker’.
The names of tracks contribute to the overarching impression of comedic contrast in style.
Continuing on the notion that the sub-genre has comedic value, Aphex Twin’s album ‘Drukqs’ presents a dark and barbaric emphasis on his first eight tracks, especially in ‘Omgyjya-Switch7’. Then all of a sudden ‘Avril 14th’ is featured which is, in its entirety, a soft piano piece reminiscent to Mozart. Then the next track goes straight back into electro-weirdness.
This kind of tongue-in-cheeck nod to the dedicated listeners is perhaps why the music is labelled as intelligent.
However, the label IDM is not suitable, according to many of the prominent artists.
The criticism lies in the fact that it makes other genres of music seem inferior, which is not the way they would like to come across as.